KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Sporting Kansas City’s unbeaten streak may be one game longer following Wednesday night’s 1-1 draw with the Colorado Rapids, but the overriding feeling at Livestrong Sporting Park was what could have been.
Teal Bunbury and Omar Bravo each rattled the post and CJ Sapong’s deflected shot struck the crossbar in extra time, but Sporting simply could not convert their sustained pressure into a winner.
And as chance after chance went begging, manager Peter Vermes was left with his head in his hands, crouching in disbelief and wondering what it was going to take to beat Rapids goalkeeper Matt Pickens.
“I’m proud of the fact that we were able to get the goal,” Vermes said. “We were around the two posts and the crossbar. We had a lot of great chances. … At the end of the day, when we are at home, we want to win.”
Although they couldn’t quite get the three points they desired, Kansas City (5-6-6) did more than enough to move their unbeaten streak to nine games in the league - the second best such run in team history - and 11 overall.
Despite the end result, it didn’t always look like Sporting were in line for even a point.
After Conor Casey found a soft spot in the defense to put the Rapids up 1-0 half an hour into the match, Vermes’ team faced the arduous task of putting together a comeback against an opponent content to hoof the ball forward and stay organized defensively.
Kansas City didn’t test Pickens for the remainder of the first half but immediately began venturing forward from the very beginning of the second and really hit their stride once Sapong entered the match for Bunbury after 61 minutes.
Sapong’s first act was to, predictably, win a header. His second, just a minute after entering the game, led to Graham Zusi’s tying goal after his shot was saved and the ball found its way into the midfielder’s path for an easy finish.
Even after the goal, Sapong caused Colorado’s defense problem after problem, and he was extremely unlucky that Pickens managed to push his deflected strike onto the crossbar in the match’s dying moments. All in all, Sporting outshot the Rapids 10 to five in the second 45 minutes.
“Obviously, [Sapong] was fresh at that point, and they’re a little bit tired,” Vermes said. “I think also his movement [caused problems], and he has raw, physical ability to be able to turn guys. He plays excellent with his back to goal, and then he’s incredible in the air. Guys think they have him and next thing you know, he somehow slips away.”
Unfortunately for Kansas City, neither Sapong, Bravo or anyone else could find a way past Pickens, forcing them to settle for a point when three looked well within their grasp.
Still, Sporting can move onto this weekend’s home game against Chivas USA knowing they battled back from a first-half deficit to come only inches from their fifth victory in six matches.
“We knew that we deserved better than where we were,” Zusi said. “We started getting some momentum there in the second half, got our goal, and were unlucky not to get two or three more.”